What is Dall-E and what it’ll do for Microsoft 365 customers

You’re going to hear a lot about Dall-E in the coming weeks and months because Microsoft is adding it to new services for Microsoft 365 and Bing.  Before the Redmond hype gets too enthusiastic, let’s look at what Dall-E is, what it can do for you and the fun to be had.

In short, Dall-E turns text into an image with often good and sometimes funny results.

Dall-E converts a text request like “Laptop in Ancient Greece” into an image, like this.

The Dall-E is an open-source that’s been going, in various forms for the last four years but only recently gone fully public.  Microsoft has been a contributor to the project, which explains why they’ve quickly integrated the system into their own cloud services.

The upcoming Microsoft Create will include Dall-E tech and so will Bing’s Image Creator.

It has a huge library of images with descriptions plus a lot of “AI” voodoo to produce pictures.  There’s been a lot of focus on the fun or strange Dall-E results but, as it becomes more widely available it’ll be used for more sensible and practical purposes.

It’s also possible to upload your own images then adjust them with Dall-E, for example put a person, product or object into various locations. I’ll show an example with one of my own photos below.

Any Dall-E image can be downloaded as a PNG file. Insert that image into any Office document, sheet, slide or email.

Fun Dall-E

You might have seen some fun examples already on social media such as:

Stained Glass

Dall-E’s ‘stained glass’ effect is a favorite, for example “Turtles on stained glass”.

Ask for an image using the style of a famous painter (Picasso, Matisse, Da Vinci etc) or a general type (“pencil sketch”, “collage”)

Outpainting

The Dall-E ‘Outpainting’ feature which extends the look of an image, for example this ‘wide-screen’ version of a famous Vermeer painting.

Expand a photo to a panorama

Outpainting is not just for paintings, you can expand any photo to a wide-angled panorama.  Here’s one of my own photos from Antarctica, looking from the bridge of the Kapitan Khlebnikov in an ice-pack.

Source: Peter Deegan

Dall-E took that photo and expanded it to a wonderful, though fictional, panorama.

Source: Peter Deegan and Dall-E outpainting

Dall-E misunderstanding

Sometimes Dall-E doesn’t understand a word in context, like “Mac” as in “Mac and Cheese”.

Or ‘salmon’

For more details of what Dall-E can do, see https://openai.com/blog/dall-e/   A free trial is available now (the waitlist has ended) with some credits available for the first three months of use, https://openai.com/api/pricing/

Or just wait until Microsoft makes it available in some form via Microsoft Create. It remains to be seen how much of Dall-E will be available from Microsoft’s servers. The company is wary of misuse, both the PR troubles that could arise and legal liability.

Weird and Wonderful Dall-E

There are social media feeds devoted to weird and wonderful Dall-E results:

https://twitter.com/weirddalle

https://twitter.com/Dalle2Pics

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